Monday, August 30, 2010

Reality of Life

I haven't posted for a while, but there are times when everyday life takes priority. We had a great trip to the east coast to help my son and his wife move into their new home. I'd forgotten how tiring moving can be, but it's also a lot of fun and I didn't want to miss a minute. Unpacking boxes and re-discovering things that have been languishing in cupboards, drawers and corners of closets is as exciting as unwrapping Christmas presents. I really need to start with my own home. We moved here 7 years ago and there are still boxes I have yet to unpack........ Now I'm inspired to do so as soon as possible. Who knows what treasures I may find. After 36 years of marriage, 2 children and about 8 moves, whatever I discover might be as good as a Willy Wonka chocolate bar.

It's good to step back for a while. It's very easy to get involved in creativity to a point where it becomes overwhelming. There's always so much designers want to do, but never enough hours in the day. Each idea grows into more ideas - it's part of the creative process and the more we try to do, the more creative we become.

Life in the Craft Lane has changed dramatically over the past 5 years. Social networking has taken over to the point where our lives have little room for anything else, but Facebook, blogs and Twitter. Articles and projects which used to be created for books and magazines now appear on our blogs and websites, free to everyone who visits. There's still something comforting, however, about picking up a book or magazine and leafing through the pages while sitting with your feet up to the coffee table a glass of wine, or cup of tea in hand, so I hope they'll still be around for a few more years. Funnily enough, I'm sitting with my feet up, while I write this on my laptop; even computers have evolved where I'm not tied to a desk any more. I still don't have an iPhone though... so I don't Tweet..... can't imagine that anyone would really be interested in what I do on a daily, or hourly basis.

I will tell you what I have planned for tomorrow. I have boxes of projects which I will start to photograph and feature here on a regular basis. The projects may not use the latest and greatest patterned papers, or embellishments, but I've always loved to show ideas, concepts and techniques. Design has never been about the project - only the how to, so, Y'all come back now! You may find some treasures of your own.

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Digital Age

The editor of an industry newsletter recently asked this question: Do you print all the photos you take? And, where? Home Printer? On-line service? Drug store? It really made me think about how photography has changed over the past 50+ years or so. Kodak has stopped manufacturing some, if not all, 35mm film so the camera that I love is now totally redundant. It's kinda sad. The negatives we used to store always gave me a feeling of total security with the knowledge that, even if I lost a print, I could always have reprints made from negatives. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my digital cameras - the flexibility, the resolution, the ability to take videos - in HD no less, but, the advantages of digital are also the disadvantages.

In the past I'd probably take a roll of film depending on the occasion, but now I take literally hundreds of photos just to make sure I've got the best shot without having to worry about the cost of developing the film and having prints made. Herein lies the challenge. There are waaaaay too many to print and unless the photo is blurred and there isn't even a tiny part of it that is good enough to crop, I have a hard time hitting the delete button. With editing software, we can save photos that would otherwise hit the trash can and, I for one, have a hard time deciding "which one is best". If my grandchildren are in any of them, they're all fabulous. So, I take lots of photos - I have about 9,000+ in iPhoto right now - and only few of them have been printed. "One of these days" I will go thru them all and print the best of the best, but the longer I wait the more I have to "go thru" and the more overwhelming the task is. It's quite a dilemma and I doubt I'm the only one with this challenge.

So, what's the solution...... Not sure there is one, but I DO know one thing - we have to print the important ones!!! I've said many times on Scrapbook Memories, that our children are growing up to be jpegs!! Digital images are not safe, either on your computer, an external hard drive, on a CD or DVD. Not safe on a CD? Let's just say that I can't play my favorite Beatles' CD any more because there's a tiny scratch on it, no matter how carefully I handled it. Look back at how things have changed over the past 10 years or so. The first digital cameras stored images on a floppy disk. Do you have a floppy disk drive in your computer today? Who's to say that CDs and DVDs won't go the way of the 8-Track. It's scary, isn't it....... We live in a digital age at a time when the younger generation thinks that e-mail is too slow! I wonder what they'll come up with next....

Have a great week! I'm off for some R&R, so I may not post for a few days........ but I'll be back, and I can even say that with an Austrian accent....LOL

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catching Up

I don't think I'll ever catch up. When I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be a freight train every time. I usually have my notes organized within a few days of getting back from a show, but with staying over to teach classes and driving to Chicago I'm a whole week behind. At least I did something constructive this week..... I got a MacBook Pro, so now I can upload photos and work while I'm on the road. This will be a big help next week especially while I'm helping my son and his wife move into a new home on the East coast. This weekend will also be a whirlwind of activities. We're celebrating my mother-in-law's 86th birthday on Saturday and the going away party on Sunday. Never a dull moment lately. Sometimes it's exhausting just thinking about what I should be doing. I'll be going to ScrapFest too next month - another 5 days away from home. There's so much I need to do - want to do - just not enough hours in the day. I keep telling myself, it's like eating an elephant, take it one bite at a time. Not exactly a pleasant thing to visualize. It's more like pulling Texas weeds - by the time you get the last weed out of the flower bed, the first ones you pulled are already sprouting again. Laundry is another great example. I can do every piece of laundry, but the next day there's still a basket of stuff to be washed. Life is definitely a Neverending story. Truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way; it sure is better than the alternative.

Did you notice the header? It's as finished as it's going to be for now, but this is just a draft. You'll see what I mean when I get the final one up - probably in a week or two. Let me know what you think of it - so far........ Y'all come back now!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

New Header - A Work in Progress

You may notice that I'm working on a new header.........hmm..... I'm still working on it. I may need a few more days, but it's coming along. It will probably end up being quite different, but that's all part of the creative process...... check back in a few days and you'll see what I ended up with. I can tell you for sure that this is not final. Definitely need some flowers, bushes, butterflies and birds. Ya'll come back now!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

CHA Summer Trade Show

CHA holds a trade show twice a year; one in winter and one in summer. This is where manufacturers display their lines of products for retailers to buy for their stores - for you..... This show is not open to the public. You have to qualify for admission by being a store owner, member of the press, manufacturer, service supplier or designer and the qualifications are quite strict. I am a designer member of CHA, but qualified initially as a Professional Crafter - a term we don't hear very much any more. I would go to the shows to buy product to make items to sell in craft malls and at craft shows. I went to my first show in 1991 and haven't missed a winter or summer show since. It was always exciting to see the new products, but I really enjoyed seeing all the samples that had been created for display that featured those products. It was amazingly inspirational. The shows have changed a lot over the past 20 years, because the industry has changed, but the common denominator remains - creativity. We love to create!

So, that being said, here are photos from the trade show. Mostly pages and projects for your enjoyment and inspiration, plus news about some of the new tools and products that will be coming your way over the next couple of months or so.

What's New!

1. Provo Craft has updated the Cricut, so now you can both print and cut. You will also have this capability with the Eclips from Sizzix.

2. Spellbinders. The Presto Punch,which is designed for small dies was introduced at the winter show and this summer the Grand Calibur made its d├ębut with an assortment of large dies.

3. We R Memory Keepers. The company that brought you the Crop-A-Dile and the Big Bite, now has a third tool in this series - the Main Squeeze, a tool that die-cuts small shapes, embosses, sets corners, flattens squeeze tabs and more.

Also new is the Sew Easy line of products for those of you who love to stitch on your pages, but don't want to pull out the sewing machine. The basic tool is hand held with interchangeable rotary blades which pierce the paper. Another nifty little tool is the Heart Attack, a small sanding/distressing tool in the shape of a heart.

4. Imaginisce. Create dazzling projects by affixing pearls, rhinestones, jewels or mirrors to paper, fabric and even wood with the i-rock, a cordless heat setting applicator. Just place the embellishment where you want it, then press the i-rock tool on top. It's so easy you'll rock too!

5. Vagabond. Tim Holtz is currently designing a signature line of dies for Sizzix which debuted at the winter show. Now there is a coordinating die cutting machine. Here's a sneak peek, but you'll probably find more info on Tim's blog, or on the Sizzix website.

It's a nifty little machine. With the front part folded up, it looks like a small suitcase. Below is a photo of Tim's booth.

6. Epiphany Crafts is a new company which has introduced the EC Shape Studio and EC Button Studio. This is a type of punch. There are 4 shape studio punches (2 sizes of circles and 2 sizes of hearts) and 4 button studio shapes with button holes (two sizes of circles, a heart and a flower). Each shape has a corresponding acrylic dome, or flat acrylic button. Use these punches to punch a paper shape (it could be a small photo printed on paper) then place the corresponding self-adhesive acrylic shape on top.

7. Flip Pal. This is a mobile scanner and it won the CHA Innovations award. It is a small, hand held scanner which runs on AA batteries. Just place it on the top of whatever you want to scan and it works just like the flatbed scanners. The information is stored on a flash card like the ones used for a digital camera. It's great for things that are difficult to place on a regular scanner and even though it's small (about 5" x 7") it has a stitching feature so you can scan larger pieces then "stitch" them seamlessly together.

8. SCAL from Create & Craft. This is software for a Mac (yeh!) or a PC that allows you to create and cut your own designs and fonts already installed on your computer using a Cricut

All the manufacturers in the paper crafts section had new paper designs and coordinating embellishments, so you'll have to check your local and online stores to see what they ordered, there were way too many to feature here.

Halloween is the second largest holiday and craft buying season, so it stands to reason that it would be a popular theme for papers, embellishments, etc., but this year I saw so much more of it than in the past. Maybe because we're not just creating album pages any more. We're making cards and lots of projects for the home using these same supplies.

Cupcakes themes are still hot, both in craft and gift market and flowers are everywhere in paper, fabric, ribbon, felt, metal, button designs and rubber stamps. Not just for scrapbook pages and cards, flowers and images of flowers, were being used to decorate just about everything. Check out the gallery of projects below.

So many flowers, so little time........ Here are some button, felt and metal flower embellishments from Sassafras.

The show is always a good place to see friends. Here I am with Helen Chu from My Little Shoebox and photos of her brightly colored booth.

Here's Marianne Walker from Copic markers. If you haven't tried them yet, these markers are wonderful, especially for coloring rubber stamped images. Both Copic Marker classes at the Super Show sold out within days of being offered.

Here's Suze Weinberg, Kathy Cano Murillo, the Crafty Chica and Katie Hacker. Katie is the new host of Beads, Baubles & Jewels, which airs on PBS stations across the United States.

Just a few more for inspiration........... Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)